The Workshop Outline

I'm offering this original plan as a rough guide for others planning to run similar events. Timings changed during the event and some sections were changed or moved. Several exercises took longer than expected and I allowed more 'breathing space' than this schedule does. However, we did finish on time and the group didn't feel rushed, though it was a very intense three days!

I've written a full report on the 2003 Council which shows how this outline evolved when it meet real people...

I've taken some of this from the Handbook for running a Council.

THURSDAY Evening:

Arrive, eat and chill. Stories and songs round the fire.

FRIDAY:

10-30 Introductions
What to expect. Intent, confidentiality and personal safety.
Brief round the circle introductions. Who, what, why.

11-30 Milling

Intent:
A series of exercises designed to create group bonding, and to focus our whole attention (heart, body, mind) on our relationship with the rest of the natural world.

Practical:
Participants walk slowly in all directions in a defined space (outdoors is best), and then find a different partner for each of four or five 'stops', each of which has a different exercise (15-20 minutes.) Finish with a 'Blind Walk', which builds trust between participants, and introduces them to nature through many senses. 15-20 minutes.)

12.15 Mourning

Intent:
To safely explore our feelings and release the energy they're holding.
To build group consciousness and start to open up.

Practical: Building the Cairn of Mourning.
We may want to split the group for this.

Each person finds some object to represent something that is being lost from our lives that we can genuinely mourn for; an animal, landscape or some lost quality of the human spirit.

As each person feels the moment, they place our object in the centre building a Cairn of Mourning, describe (or move, howl, etc.) what it is and invite sharing of feeling. Sadness, anger, despair are all welcome!

The Circle supports the person in the centre.

1.30 LUNCH

2.30 Remembering

Intent:
To consciously own our ancient kinship.

Practical:
Facilitator leads a guided meditation back to the birth of the Earth 4.6 billion years ago, and leads each participant through evolution to this moment.

I propose including the 'Hand Evolutionary Journey' here. This involves exploring the human hand in pairs, coming to understand its history and evolution. [This wasn't included in the September 2003 workshop.]

3.00 TEA

3.30 Shamanic Journey 1

Intent:
For each person to contact a nature spirit who wishes to work with/speak through them in the Council.

Practical:
Woody to run this? Drumming journey. People should have already done some Journey work.

4.30 Time out - alone or in groups - to reflect

Intent:
To give people space to feel/think through the work so far, especially the Journey. Some may need to talk, others will want their own space.

Practical:
Plenty of space to be alone. People invited to stay in workshop space to share. Opportunity to talk to a facilitator. Need to watch for people feeling lost or upset.

6.00 Evening Meal

Needs to be kept light as we are going into Sweat Lodge next. Soup? Make it clear that no alcohol before Lodge and to talk to facilitator if they want to take other drugs before Lodge.

8.00 Sweat Lodge

Intent:
Cleansing. Opening up. Shifting the practice up a gear.

Practical:
May need to have two sweats if there are 40 people. An 8.00 start should mean we could do this. 20 each is probably OK. Need to decide on the Lodge ritual and who will run it. The EarthWorm crew will build the Lodge.

SATURDAY:

11.00 Mask Making
Intent:
Space to connect with the 'partner being' and allow creative energy to be expressed. Masks themselves will help with the 'shifting' process. People may choose to face or body paint instead or as well.

Practical:
Need materials and some simple practical advice.

12.30 LUNCH

1.30 Preparing for the Council

Intent:
To explain how the Council will run, what we hope for, what may happen. Feedback, questions, worries etc. Give time for face/body painting, getting masks etc.

Practical:
Brief introduction followed by short Talking Stick circle. Then 30 minutes to prepare.

2.30 Shamanic Journey 2
Intent:
To initiate the 'shifting' process in preparation for the Council.

Practical:
Shouldn't need to be long - just enough to allow the being to come through.

3.00 Trance Dance
[This wasn't included in the September 2003 workshop.]
Intent:
To develop the 'shifting' process in preparation for the Council. Will allow the being to more fully express themselves through their human working partner.

Practical:
May need two spaces. Need Watchers. Beings go straight to join the Council Circle.

4.00 - 5.00(?) The Council

Intent: To give a voice to the unheard beings that weave the web of life.

Practical:
Set up Sacred Circle. We will be in Circle already, but may want to set up Quarter Altars etc.

All beings/humans enter and sit, lie or stand around the Circle.

Opening from Facilitator. (I think/feel this should be a Fairy/human because of the unique perspective they/we have):

"We meet in council because our planet is in trouble; our lives and our ancient ways are endangered. It is fitting that we confer, for there is much now that needs to be said and much that needs to be heard."

Stage 1:
The beings speak their truth to each other.

Stage 2:
The Council invites humans into the circle to hear the testimonies. In a conventional Council several participants remove their masks and step into the center of the Circle. I'm not sure we can do this, but ideas/comments?

If not, we either miss this - which would be a shame - or some people stay as humans for this witnessing. Some people may not feel ready to shapeshift, so can fulfill this role instead.

Stage 3:
Each life form offers gifts to the humans to help them in the work of reconnection.

We need to take notes of any key points agreed by the Council. Maybe the Facilitator can do this, or one of those who are remaining human.

Close council. Beings return to human form.

5.00 - 6.00 Chill time

6.00 Preparing the Ritual

Intent:
If need be to discuss the ritual, organize teams to get ready etc.

Practical:
An hour may not be enough, but this can flow into the mealtime.

7.00 Evening Meal

8.30 Ritual

Intent:
There may be some specific work that emerges from the Council. If not, I'd suggest a ritual to help further ground humans in the work of reconnection. Or it could be a celebratory ritual for the beings and their human partners. [We didn't feel the need to do extra ritual work at the September 2003 workshop.]

Practical:
We need to agree a ritual that we will use if nothing emerges from the Council or the group.

SUNDAY

11.30 Personal goals and strategies
Paired "If I was completely fearless...." exercise.
(Remind people that they are a part of the Earth and that their goals may indeed include caring for themselves!)
[I used the Journey into Our Future guided mediation instead in the September 2003.]

12.15 Networking Circle
Sharing circle in which people briefly describe their current environmental work to see what networking can be done.
[We didn't feel the need to do this at the September 2003.]

1.00 LUNCH

2.00 Open Circle
Feedback and sharing

3.00 Grounding
Short exercise and/or reminder of the importance of grounding fully after the workshop.

3.30 Closing Ritual
Burning the masks. Saying our thanks and farewells. Spiral Dance. Grounding. Group hug. Closing the Circle.
[We switched these last two elements at the September 2003 workshop.]

4.30 (ish) TEA and CAKE!

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Introduction
About the Council   -   The Words of the Council